#howtostaysaneinacrazyworld is learning to speak french with heather in arles!

oh, darlings

dearest Heather all the way over there in FRANCE popped on the percolator to make a small cafe au lait and then, with the glorious goldens weaving in and around her legs, she sat down at her beautiful desk in the glorious Provencal countryside and took a lot of time to pen the Most beautiful article about the book.


we are so Very VERY grateful.


especially for this……..you never know how our Paths cross and why and when people will be there in another time zone all together when you can’t calm down in the one you’re in and they Know and they respond and, in time, everything becomes clearer and richer and infinitely different in a truly miraculous way.

I found teamgloria right after Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012, having been moved by a comment at Daily Plate of Crazy and I was instantly hooked. I too was drawn to Gloria’s vision of the world as a calming counter-balance to our chaotic society. So it was with great excitement that I read the news that Sophia was planning a book, the very one that she wished that she had by her side during her recovery. And now that I have it, I can say that it is absolutely beautiful.

and then she gave us an extra gift.


(if you can’t see this transmission in your territory, ask mr. google to bring you the file folder that contains this: “Mad World – Gary Jules” – you’re most welcome)

now there’s no way that Heather could know that when who-we-are-in-RL was fourteen, she managed to sneak into a Gig where Tears for Fears were playing (at The Dome, Brighton, 17th Dec 1983 to date us all but why the hell not, love) the Original version of Mad World.

and who-we-are-in-RL was Transfixed – by the words, the music, being fourteen, surrounded by (slightly) older people (and thus feeling very glamorous and naughty and Out Late) and then she listened to the message in the song and the B-side later (Ideas as Opiates)

All around me are familiar faces
Worn out places, worn out faces
Bright and early for their daily races
Going nowhere, going nowhere
And their tears are filling up their glasses
No expression, no expression
Hide my head I want to drown my sorrow
No tomorrow, no tomorrow

And I find it kind of funny
I find it kind of sad
The dreams in which I’m dying
Are the best I’ve ever had
I find it hard to tell you
‘Cause I find it hard to take
When people run in circles
It’s a very, very
Mad world

and right at that Moment – in the Dome, Brighton, being all fourteen and awkward and scared about the present but excited by the Future – it all came together – it was a Mad World – but people wrote about it and other people listened and somehow that made it less Mad and more Magical.

so Mad World was one of our original inspirations for what became “How To Stay Sane In A Crazy World” and all those *gulps* years later – Heather in Arles took the time to order the book and wait patiently for her French postal carrier to come through the Provencal wooden gate and up the winding path and hand her the book and upon reading it, sipping a little from the cafe au lait from time to time, enjoying the sound of dogs pattering around the parquet flooring and looking hopefully out of the window for their morning walk, she thought about Mad World and wrote the loveliest, kindest, most generous book review – and somehow the circle closes (before it opens again, because it always does, in the nicest possible way as we all grow and change and move on and flourish).

n’est-ce pas délicieux?

mais, oui!

your review was a beautiful thing to write – and written so beautifully – merci, Heather.

1st sightings in Continental Europe!



the book has made it to La Belle France!

Heather sent us glorious photographs (and boy, aren’t those glorious? – Tres Chic!).

Francesighting1 francesighting2 francesighting3the book does look very happy….

thank you dear Heather!

and further into Continental Europe we had a virtual congratulatory wave from Beautycalypse who lives in Berlin (but is originally from much further East in Russia – isn’t that amazing) – the book reached her in its Virtual “ebook” form – so there’s no picture to show but we whipped up a visual of her Very Nice Quote.

HTSSIACWbeautycalypsepraisethis is so very moving, hearing from people all over the world as the book in its various forms (cloned at last!), encased in brown paper and string is brought up the garden path to the kitchen door by the Postman (clearly that’s in our imagination, mr. amazon goes in for the firm corrugated cardboard option, no string, but we do recommend adding a Ribbon to your copy, it likes that).


and now, in hono(u)r of our Friends on the Continent, a little musical interlude.

lie back on those pillows, pull on the satin mask over the eyes, sink into her voice and turn it up LOUD.

bienvenue, jet lag….

bonjour, darlings.

it’s 3AM in Paris.

we had a few hours of sleep.

mais no more, it seems.

we are Not Unfamiliar with the experience of jet lag having seen 3AM now in several cities including beijing and Milan.

but this is different.

everything is different in Paris.

especially when surrounded by such sumptuous 19th century beauty.



we even had a Very Noel Coward Moment when a footman slipped a Telephone message under our door while we took our bath, hair piled (for the synthroid has made it grow in abundance) on our head, getting ready for the Day Job’s evening Events…..

although, this being France and not NYC, the message was a Tiny bit Late, as we had already had the meeting…. But it made for a delicious moment and we Adore those.

Then into a waiting car. And glam companions. To a red carpet or two….


we don’t like to Queue. So at one point we slipped to the front with a what-we-hoped-was-a-winning-smile and explained who our companions were (we are only queue worthy jumping at other’s shimmeringness and the lack of patience – sigh – and the fact it was Cold) and Tickled Pink to get a “no speak English” from the surly hired muscle (we were so tired we had no language recognition powers ourself to Know Which we had been speaking) so we Switched Into French (which was surprisingly fluid at a Late Heure!).

And slipped into the festivities with our companions.

we noticed that we don’t want to be in any photographs (harsh lighting, logo walls and a lack of retouching have Never been our favorite – where oh where is Cecil Beaton’s soft bounced light off a sheer toile?) but it’s more than that.

anonymity suits us.

flashbulbs and smiling when we are So Confused about immigration status and roles and jet lag descending made us happy to lean into a small crevice by a statue and watch for a while.

then we Did the Rounds.

made sure we fulfilled our duties with a modicum of grace (and gave thanks for knowing Such Interesting People from so many Lands) and then slipped out…..

pass Les Deux Magots, lights blazing and fashionable types in suspended animation…..La Coupole le meme……a brisk walk to raise our spirits (Paris par nuit!) and then into a waiting taxi to thrill at crossing the Seine.

our constant companion has been this excellent guide…..

available not necessarily at these venerable leather bound purveyors of delights….


But from here on the interweb at McNally OR at colette!

tres chic and insider-y and delicious.

as is the becloaked author herself…..for we are now clandestine correspondents……which we simply thrill to…..nothing like exchanging bon mots on today’s equivalent of parchment and vellum as the driver’s horse scratches its hooves on the gravel driveway, waiting for a return message, while Cook gives the messenger a chocolat au lait chaud (oooo, got a Downton all of a sudden with a wartime nesquik sense memory).

and so we are here.

sleep is not returning.

time for a pot of coffee from room service, Day Job email catch up and yesterday’s newspapers and a fresh subtle Parisian night air with the shutters Flung Open to embrace the dawn over rooftops……

we are going to be exhausted.

but we can still be Terribly Romantic about it All.

when in doubt, les deux magots

if you were here now, we’d spend the afternoon talking over the state of the world, les annees folle, Godard et les troubles de monsieur galliano.

wouldn’t it be delicious?

we’re having the salade deux magots, perrier – et apres, a rather large cafe creme.


leaving for england in a few hours. our (day job) work is done in continental europe. we’re not sure we’re any more enlightened about the task(s) ahead – but we assure you we were utterly charming throughout the whole process ;)

glorious places: cafe mode

there’s a place in paris called cafe mode that we always visit when in la belle ville (we’re not in paris a hell of a lot, just so we don’t give you the wrong impression, but when we are, you’ll find us there at some juncture)…..scroll down to find out why….before we forget – here’s the address:

cafe mode
24 Rue François 1er
75008 Paris
01 47 20 69 53

now the more fashionable among you will suddenly lean forward with a start and say:

“rue francois 1er? vraiment? le maison du couture? du balmain et les autres?!”

why yes.

the very same, darlings.

cafe mode is, indeed, full of fashion people from the houses of couture, but only the type of atelier management who eat (this is, after all, a cafe, forgive – but you know a sample size doesn’t go over hips of any dimension whatsoever so those house models and shop girls just can’t eat at cafe mode).

we go to cafe mode because of the glorious ginette spanier.

we can see we’re going to have to explain……pick up your tea cup, take a sip, and lean in, we’re going to speak quietly as the utter fatigue of traveling/travelling has kicked in, love.

ginette spanier was the directrice of balmain (post-war up to 1960s) and had a most elegant and charming disposition (which belied the terrible experiences in occupied france she endured). ginette was a born saleswoman and a glorious host (noel coward, marlene dietrich and lena horne stayed up VERY late in her apartment on avenue marceau) and a fabulous writer – if you can get hold of her two books “it’s not all mink” (re-named later by a publisher into something awfully bland) and “now it’s sables” (isn’t she adorable?) you’ll have a great time with her tales of fashion, intrigue and behind the white panels of the couture house where house models paraded in the altogether (or wisps of satin) and ladies of a certain deep pocketbook (and age) decided on next season’s purchases for palm beach, monaco and monte carlo.



*thanks to fashion stylist and creative consultant Rebekah Roy for the picture! do read her own blog post about ginette here.

and yet there’s more….of course there is. ginette had a double-life. that was somewhat seasonal (how modern, as william would say).

september to early june, she was married to her suspiciously good-looking husband (who, in one picture, had his arm linked with noel coward, ahem) and when the summer months arrived, she was whisked off to america by her speaking agent or gave lectures around england with her good friend (and by all accounts quite possibly her lover) nancy spain.


we know! glorious, right?

so it was nancy (do read rose collis’ book, it’s excellent – although we also own a few of nancy’s own writings and will be quoting from them in later posts) who encouraged ginette to put down her memoirs and develop a second, very lucrative career.

what about cafe mode?

gosh. thanks for remembering.

well – ginette lived on avenue marceau and worked on rue francois 1er (balmain is still there) and cafe mode is at the bottom of the street and (yes, we asked, in french, no less) the cafe was there in ginette’s time.

so it feels as if she still pops in for a cafe creme, a baguette mixte and perhaps a glass of excellent cold crisp french mineral water. and loosens her corsetry after (as we did, today) in appreciation.



enfin. paris.

on less than five hours sleep we ran out into the streets of paris on the wings of sagan, sartre and de beauvoir and with the insistent melodies of serge gainsbourg in our ears…………well, we thought we’d show tobias and his sisters la vie en rose before they, you know, have to leave us……it’s only polite.